A new state report shows sales and use tax collections across Wyoming for the first eight months of Fiscal Year 2016 are down by 19.9 percent compared to the same time a year ago.

The decline amounts to $114.9 million statewide.

That's according to Jim Robinson, Principal Economist with the state's Economic Analysis Division, who says lagging energy prices continue to put a damper on the state economy.

Fiscal Year 2016 started on July 1, 2015 and runs through June 30, 2016.

Robinson says only four counties-Albany, Weston, Teton and Lincoln-saw increases in sales and use tax collections.

The biggest declines in sales tax collections were in Campbell and Converse counties, where those revenues are down by $29.5 million and $25.4 million, respectively.

Natrona County, which is heavily dependent on the energy sector of the economy, had the third biggest drop in sales and use tax collections at $22 million. Robinson says layoffs in oil and gas field service companies in the Casper area were a major cause of that decline.

Robinson says Laramie County, which has the largest population in the state, has seen a decline of about $8.5 million in sales tax collections for the fiscal year. Robinson says that while Laramie County is taking a hit in the oil industry, which has started to develop over the last few years, it hasn't suffered the huge drop in collections that has been seen in some other counties because because the county has other significant industries.

Robinson says there are signs of hope statewide going forward, including a likely uptick in construction with the arrival of warmer weather. He also notes the tourism industry in Wyoming had a good year last year and should do well again in the coming months.

But he says low energy prices are likely to continue to be a problem for the foreseeable future in Wyoming. And with the energy sector being the dominant player in the state economy, it's hard to say when things will improve.

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